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Acer Chromebook 13 CB713 review: Looks but not longevity

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £509

Impressive screen and value, but weak battery life means the Chromebook falls just short of an award


  • Luxury quality build
  • Fantastic screen resolution
  • Solid sound quality


  • Poor battery life
  • Distracting noise from the fan

Up until recently, Acer’s approach to high-end Chromebooks was to combine premium looks and materials with budget Celeron and Pentium components, then ship at a mid-range price. Recently, though, that strategy changed with the introduction of the 2-in-1 Chromebook Spin 13 – and this, its non-convertible sibling, the Chromebook 13 CB713.

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Acer Chromebook 13 CB713 review: Features

Both Chromebooks combine the designs and materials we’ve seen in Acer’s high-end Windows slim and light laptops with a heavyweight specification; while this model ships with an eighth-generation Core i3-8130U and 4GB of RAM, the Chromebook Spin 13 goes all the way up to a Core i7-8550U and 8GB.

The design is business-like rather than chic, with the aluminium casing finished in a gunmetal grey, and at 18mm thick and 1.4kg in weight, it’s neither particularly thin nor light by today’s ultraportable standards. Put it next to the Asus Flip C434 or Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 and its bezels even look a little chunky. Yet the build quality is reassuringly solid and it feels like a luxury laptop. Just be aware that there’s no touchscreen, which will limit your interest if you want to run Android apps.

The hinge pushes the thick bottom bezel on the desk, raising the deck of the laptop up, and the result is a comfortable typing position that’s perfect for working on what turns out to be a fantastic, back-illuminated keyboard. It has a light touch, but there’s plenty of travel and the keys hit a nice balance between easy actuation and tangible feedback; you can feel when you have tapped the key. The left Shift could be larger, but our complaints end there.

We’re also fans of the touchpad, which isn’t as big as the touchpads on some rival models but is so accurate and smooth under the fingers that it seems to be. Multitouch gestures work every time, making navigation that much easier.

Connectivity is on a par with rivals, with two USB Type-C ports that also cover charging, a single USB-A 3.1 port and a microSD card slot. You also have 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 to work with.

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Acer Chromebook 13 CB713 review: Performance

Don’t be worried by the Core i3 processor or 4GB of RAM. The Acer can’t compete with the mighty Lenovo Chromebook Yoga C630, but it holds its own against the Dell Inspiron Chromebook and even Google’s flagship Pixelbook in our benchmark tests (see p92). Performance isn’t a problem even with a dozen Chrome tabs open or the most demanding apps. However, that speed comes with a dose of annoyance, as the CB713’s fan keeps on spinning up during even moderate use. After silent Chromebook after silent Chromebook, this came as a shock.

But battery life is the real disappointment. It only managed 5hrs 27mins of video playback in our tests, or roughly six hours of mixed browsing, document editing and general everyday use. That’s passable, yet when the similarly-specced Dell Inspiron does so much more, it’s hard not to feel let down.

There is one final area, though, where the Acer pulls ahead of its rivals. Its 13.5in, 2,256 x 1,504 IPS screen is magnificent, with a maximum brightness of 338cd/m2 and exceptionally vibrant and accurate colours; it reproduced 99.7% of the sRGB gamut and 77.3% of the more arduous DCI-P3.

Sound is surprisingly good as well, with more weight than you’ll get from most Chromebooks and even some vaguely convincing spatial effects. You can’t pump up the volume and to fill a room with music – it’s a little too boxy for this – but at lower volumes, you’ll be fine.

Acer Chromebook 13 CB713 review: Verdict

At a higher price the Acer’s weaknesses might be fatal, but for just over £500 it’s actually good value. If it had more stamina, it would walk away with top honours.

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